Flaherty shocked and honored to be named St. Pat's Day parade marshal

Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014, 6:10 pm
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By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com
Someone must have cornered a young Denny Flaherty and told him that being grateful for what you have and nice to others goes a long way in this world.

He got the message.

"Just another one of the great things to happen in my life,'' Flaherty said after learning he had been selected to serve as grand marshal of Grand Parade XXIX, set for March 15.
Grand Parade, billed as the only interstate St. Patrick's Day Parade in the United States, is the centerpiece of the local celebration hosted by the St. Patrick Society, Quad-Cities.

"I'm shocked to be chosen, but you cannot feel any more honored than I feel. I have a chance to lead a parade near to my heart and heritage, a parade that two men I respected greatly, Father James Conroy and Father Robert Lee, have led.''

Married 45 years to Patty Anne, Flaherty is a father of three and grandfather of three. A Marine, Flaherty served two tours in Vietnam, then worked 34 years as a purchasing agent locally with two companies.

Flaherty is deep in his faith and has dedicated his life to giving back. Entrenched for decades as a do-it-all servant at Davenport's St. Anthony's Catholic Church, he also has long served as an advocate for veterans in Iowa and Illinois. Not a day passes that Flaherty does not serve a meal to those in need at the widely known McAnthony's window at his church or help a veteran in need.

The need to give back, a modest Flaherty said, was instilled in him long ago by his mother and father.

"I never knew we weren't rich,'' he said of his days growing up in Davenport. "My father worked hard, allowed us to attend Catholic schools, made sure we were fed and had a roof over our heads. He taught us that if we had something, no matter what it was, it could be shared. There was always room for someone at my mother's table and in our home. I guess that has stuck with me. I guess it's why I take pride in telling people we served over 18,000 meals last year at McAnthony's and distributed 1,800 food baskets."

At 11 a.m. March 14, the St. Patrick Society will host the annual Gathering of the Clan Luncheon at the Davenport RiverCenter. There, Flaherty will be introduced as the grand marshal of Grand Parade XXIX. He said the best part of the two-day celebration of his heritage will be sharing it with his family.

"Great wife, great daughters and three amazing grandsons,'' Flaherty said. "Two grandsons will ride with me in the parade, but the third -- a newborn -- will enjoy it with his mom and have to catch it on video someday. I'm looking forward to it.''

In addition to having his family share his big day, Flaherty is hoping two big influences on his life can be part of the celebration.

"Ed Froehlich (Bix 7 race director) and David Woods (Scott County Veterans service officer) are amazing men,'' Flaherty said. "My wife and I have volunteered for the Bix for over 25 years. People volunteer for the Bix because Ed makes them feel wanted and appreciates every volunteer's contribution. And David -- what a great job he does for vets in Scott County. I see it firsthand all the work he does. He gets it. Society might not get it sometimes, but those two do.''

That society Flaherty spoke of has -- with some tweaking -- potential.

"We are getting better at serving our veterans, but there is still a long road to travel to get where we need to be,'' he said. "And the poor -- we keep throwing buckets of money out there toward helping them, but it's not going in the right direction. People care; they really do. There are so many caring souls. I just hope they get it figured out.''

Like Denny Flaherty has.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or Jmarx@qconline.com.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)